Black Med. Student Fighting For Life After White “Friends” Push Him Into Lake (Photo)

The family of a 26-year-old Louisiana man who has brain damage after a friend allegedly pushed him into a lake despite him being unable to swim is calling on authorities to deliver them justice.

Christopher Gilbert’s family’s pleas came after he nearly drowned on 14 April while at a lakefront restaurant by Lake D’Arbonne in the northern Louisiana town of Farmerville.

Speaking to the local news station KSLA, Gilbert’s mother Yolanda George said: “A friend of his called. She was hysterical, crying on the phone. She told me that Chris had [fallen] into the lake, and he had been underwater for 20 minutes or so.”

George said her son – an aspiring medical doctor – was rescued and taken to a nearby hospital. She added: “The doctor called us in and told me that at that time, he was brain-dead, pretty much, and the rest of his organs were starting to fail, and that we had 72 hours on” life support, though Gilbert later regained consciousness and the ability to eat on his own.

An attorney for Gilbert’s family, Claudia Payne, told KSLA that the friend group initially told police that he had fallen into the lake. But further investigation, he said, found that a female friend had pushed him into the water.

“She actually admitted to [Gilbert’s] mom – as well as the police officers – that she pushed him into the lake,” Payne said. “In the legal field, we categorize things the way we see fit, so of course they are saying horseplay. We are saying that it was a criminal intentional push into the lake.”

She added that one of the friends from the group attempted to pull Gilbert out, but it was ultimately a restaurant customer who rescued him.

Describing her reaction upon seeing her son for the first time at the hospital, George said: “I was devastated. I felt like my life had ended in that moment.

“My son is aspiring to be a medical doctor – my son is going to be a medical doctor. He got his master’s last year in biological science. He’s preparing for medical school so for this to have happened to him … I was just devastated.”

George recalled the conversation she had with the friend who pushed Gilbert into the lake. She remembered asking, “Why would you push my son in the lake, knowing he couldn’t swim?”

In response, the friend reportedly said: “Well ma’am, I didn’t know that man couldn’t swim.”

Gilbert replied: “Who is ‘that man?’ This is supposed to be amongst a group of friends. Who is ‘that man?’ Chris? Everybody knows he can’t swim.

“Even when we went to the restaurant, the owner of the restaurant even stated, ‘Everybody knows Chris can’t swim.’ He’s been coming here for two years. He’s always joking about it.”

According to Payne, Gilbert’s family wants police to arrest the person who allegedly pushed him into the lake. They are also seeking for the restaurant owner to be held liable for not keeping Chris safe as a patron of the establishment.

A change.org supporting the Gilbert family’s wishes had collected more than 2,600 signatures as of Sunday.

Gilbert had woken up as of Friday, was able to eat on his own and had been temporarily taken off life support.

 

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